The Mis-Education of Misunderstood

by John D. Evans

Over 75 years ago, renowned historian, philosopher, and educator Carter G. Woodson, in his book Mis-Education of the Negro, criticized the education system and explained the vicious circle that results from mis-educated individuals graduating, then proceeding to teach and mis-educate others (Woodson, 1933). The author of this contemporary response, John D. Evans, is a Learning Behavior Specialist who argues that the vicious cycle of mis-education continues, but in a new and adulterated way. It is important to note that the subjects of this response are not African-Americans alone, but they include all misunderstood and angry youth of every race, every class, and of every culture.

The Mis-Education of Misunderstood, Angry Youth

I had a dream last night that one of my college professors was angry with me. He looked me in my eyes and told be to leave his classroom. He told me to go with the rest of my kind. I wanted to respond, but I couldnít. I just picked up my books and exited the class. Everyone watched and no one said a word. I donít know what I did to deserve this treatment, but the message was clear: the teacher no longer wanted me in the room.

Many children today are angry. They are dealing with pressures and stresses that were not intended for young people. Gangs, drugs, sex, and jails are on the minds and have become the realities of many of our youth. What are we teaching our children when we suspend them for being angry? When we shut them out of the educational process for two to five days for talking back or for using profanity? No, misbehavior and disrespect are not to be condoned, but what are we teaching young people when our only behavior intervention is suspension?

It is an abuse of power for educators and administrators to suspend children for behavior infractions without implementing behavior intervention strategies and without practicing effective behavior modification techniques. Reinforcers are consequences that strengthen behavior and punishments are consequences that weaken behavior ( Educators must understand children in order to reach them. Once we reach them, we will be able to teach them. Many of us are not allowing ourselves to get to know our students. Children are angry and we are taking their anger personally.

Many of us have already determined the children that we donít have time for and are failing to show concern for their socio-emotional state or development. Many educators are not taking the time to engage in direct, one-on-one communication with the child that is necessary for understanding to take place. Whenever a child is fuming with negativity and exploding with profanity, there is a reason why. While sitting in the Principalís office and, later, remaining home for days, our children are missing out on their education. They are being mis-educated and many of us are the reasons why.

The Mis-Education of Misunderstood by John D. Evans

© Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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